Employees who adopt a child could be entitled to paid adoption leave and paid time off for adoption appointments (up to 5 appointments of 6.5 hours per session).
In addition, they're protected against unfair treatment or dismissal, and they must be offered a suitable alternative job or remuneration if they are suspended because of their adoption leave plans.
If the child is being adopted by a couple, as opposed to an individual, only one person will be entitled to adoption pay and leave, with the other person eligible only for paternity pay and leave.
Who is eligible for adoption leave?
To be eligible for adoption leave, an approved UK adoption agency must have matched the employee with a child for adoption, and the employee must have agreed to the match and the placement date (i.e. the date the adopted child will come to live with them).
Employees who have applied, are eligible to apply, or who plan to apply for a parental order because they are due to become an adoptive parent via surrogacy, are also entitled to adoption leave.
How is adoption leave arranged?
The employee must notify you of their adoption leave, including details of when the child is due to be placed with them and when they plan to begin their leave.
This information should be given to you ideally within 7 days of them receiving notification of their adoption match from the adoption agency.
As an employer, you must then write to the employee within 28 days of them providing this information to you, to confirm when their adoption leave ends and when they’re expected to return to work.
How much adoption leave is an employee entitled to?
By law, an employee is entitled to a total of 52 weeks, broken down as follows:
• The first 26 weeks are called ‘ordinary adoption leave’ • followed by up to 26 weeks of ‘additional adoption leave’.
As an employer, you can grant a longer period of leave, of course. If you plan to do so, you should set out your approach in your business’ employee handbook and/or your family-friendly policy documentation accompanies the employee’s contract of employment.
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